Review: Beauty and the Beast, By Laurence Boswell

Theatre by the Lake, Keswick until January 12

As you walk through the red rose bedecked front door of the Theatre by the Lake, past the foyer Christmas tree (more roses) and are greeted by a fabulous set, you know you are in for a festive treat.

The intriguing set gave a sense of what was to come – oversized wooden furniture was framed within a huge broken mirror.

As the lights went up, we were introduced to the colourful Parisian family and their warring siblings.

We were given an entertaining introduction to the brothers and sisters and shown a hilarious glimpse of the arrival of the youngest child, Beauty (thankfully a far cry from One Born Every Minute).

The costumes – frocks and waistcoats – may have been of a bygone age but the youthful language and attitudes were refreshingly modern.

Laurence Boswell’s Beauty and the Beast provides a new take on an old classic. While the theme was the same – see with more than your eyes – there were lots of exciting additions.

The beast’s empire was a magical, mystical place. He appeared on the stage, rasping and lolloping, his head a strange mix of deformity and steam punk.

Mealtimes were spent gathered round a concoction of changing lights, smoke and invisible banquets. The youngsters in the audience were enthralled.

The beast's two servants were each robots – moving mechanically around the stage, dispensing goods, brushing teeth and hair, entertaining everyone.

The show was cleverly choreographed, with nimble horses and robots sashaying around.

The audience was treated to a great mix of characters, from the academic older brother (Joseph Richardson) to Beauty’s sisters – the evil elder one (Sarah Moss) and her dim-witted younger sidekick (Charlie Cameron).

Eleanor Sutton was perfect as Beauty – true to herself, her family, and ultimately the Beast.

This is a great family show, full of fun and fresh ideas. Boswell has given new life to an old tale with something for everyone.

Tracy Walker